LaGrange and Troup County have been named one of the “100 best communities for children” for the third consecutive year.
“When I think about what makes us one of the 100 best, I think of Jane Gannon and Teen Maze,” said Renae Willis, past chairwoman of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. “I think of Alfreda Hyman Edmondson and Troup BELL.”
The Teen Maze program and BELL – building early learners for life – both have been singled out in the years Troup County has received the 100 best award from America’s Promise Foundation. The Teen Maze gives youths a hands-on experience of the consequences of bad choices they might make in their lives. Troup BELL helps parents get children ready to begin attending school.
Willis said the effort to make Troup a “100 best” community began seven years ago with the formation of the excellence in education committee.
“We had four goals,” she said. “To ensure that children had the best start in life and that they entered school for the first time with all the tools they would need to be successful in school and ultimately in life. To decrease the achievement gap for those students who had fallen behind and needed extra help in catching up. To increase the high school graduation rate so more students would have the most basic necessity for getting a job – a high school diploma – and to ensure that all Troup County residents have the skills, education and tools they would need to get a good job.”
Since the committee’s formation, the high school graduation rate has increased 17.5 percentage points, Willis said.
The award comes with a $2,500 cash prize, which will be given to Circles of Troup County this year. The Circles campaign is the county’s anti-poverty initiative.
America’s Promise was founded by Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma. The designation doesn’t mean that communities like Troup County and LaGrange don’t have challenges, but that youth have been made a priority here.